The raw humidity of a tropical summer gripped Isla Paradiso with a strong, rugged hand. It seemed to pull a blanket over the population, as everything seemed to grow quieter as the days slowly passed.
In the school not much learning was conducted. The pure heat had sucked any concentration power out of the children and teachers alike.
The deadline for Rhea’s teacher’s course was forthcoming, but she could not focus on it. With only the library computers at her disposal it was a long and tiring task; the building was not air conditioned and the Wi-Fi particularly slow.
In contrast, was it not for the weather, the content on the course was relatively easy, but unfortunately none of the tips written on paper seemed to work in real life.
Rhea was still having major problems with the children at school. They had subdued slightly over the last week or so, but the height of the season brought many more excuses for other kinds of mischief. Water balloon fights were becoming increasingly common and nobody else (including her co-workers and Ms Chadwick) had the energy to stop them.
She still chose Rebecca’s Café as her hangout after a difficult day at the school and library. If she could not bring her guitar, she would instead bring a light-hearted fiction novel to calm her stress levels. Rhea’s routine visits had deemed her a regular, and she and the owner Kay had become if not friends then familiar acquaintances.
The café was not as empty anymore as Rhea was used to – now the weather had perked up tourists arrived in their thousands, swarming to Isla Paradiso like moths to a light bulb. They hung around in ordered groups, bombarding any local with many questions on the whereabouts of various places of interest. Having descended from residents of the islands, Rhea herself was often the one they asked but she had to politely shake her head most of the time, and explain that she had only lived here for a few weeks etc. etc. To be honest, apart from the town centre, the café and the resort next door to her boat she did not have a clue on the locations they asked for.
That Thursday must have been the hottest of them all. Rhea had gone straight from work to the café instead of her usual detour via the library. Today was too humid to work; even the grass had majorly browned overnight.
It had been a hard day at school. Rhea’s work clothes were sodden after the kids’ latest antics, but she did not want to dwell on that now. All in all she tried not to; it was the only way she could then get up the next morning.
She hastily got changed in the café’s toilets and took out her latest humour novel ‘I’m Still Cool’. It was not the most intelligent of books but was an easy read with an uplifting tone.
The foreign chattering of a tourist group filled the café as their tour guide pointed out the building; several walked up and started jabbering away to Kay, much to his annoyance. Rhea looked up from her book and gave a hopeful smile over at him, but he was too busy trying to decipher the various accents to notice.
Before her eyes could reach the pages of the book, she noticed a man walking towards her. She could not tell if he was part of the group or not, though he did not look particularly foreign or from around Isla Paradiso either.
“Can I help you?” she asked politely, pushing her chair away from the table with an uncomfortable scrape.
Rhea looked up straight into the man’s piercing blue eyes.
“I think you could,” he said shyly, giving her a weak grin, “Do you happen to know where the gym is? A young girl said it was on this island, but I haven’t had any luck so far.”
She had a pretty clear idea on who that young girl was…
“Did she have blonde plaits by any chance?” she asked. The man gave her a strange look. “No matter.”
She explained the directions in as much detail as she could remember. As far as she knew, Palms Gym sat away from the rest of the town centre, pretty close to where the S.S Olympus was moored; she could occasionally hear the thumping work-out soundtrack even from her kitchen table, when the classes there were full.
“Thanks,” the man replied gratefully once she’d finished her extensive description, “my name is Alex by the way. Might see you around?”
“Yeah, sure. I’m Rhea.”
Alex walked off leaving Rhea alone on the decking, her eyes fixed on the back of his head which was covered in a mess of honey-blonde hair. He was certainly not a bad sight on sore eyes!